So, yesterday, I published this huge post about “ethically funding games“… and monetization and lots of topics and because of it, we had a bit of a discussion on the Blaugust discord where others shared how my paragraphs get way too big – so much, actually, that it’s hard to keep reading… Eyes wander… Suddenly you skim-read or skip past a paragraph… Or you never finish the post at all.
This isn’t something that one could question, btw. Rather, I’m very much aware that I write long paragraphs because I like to keep it at “one thought per paragraph”. That school of thinking isn’t wrong or bad or anything… It’s just a question of how you define “one thought”. In my case, my thought ends when I conclude it, meaning that paragraphs could theoretically be broken into three paragraphs each: Introduction to the Thought, Elaboration of the Thought, Conclusion of the Thought.
I reckon that that would work quite well and I try to keep that in mind… but sometimes I don’t think too much about it and paragraphs end up being too long without me even noticing it.
Part of the problem is that I read a lot of articles that are very much “old-school” in how they’re written. When I read a German piece of journalism, I see long paragraphs and I feel at home. I don’t see a problem with those. When I read a scientific article on something that sounds interesting, paragraphs are also quite long… but blog posts are neither of those.
When I meet up with our literature “club” people, we discuss literature written by people from our university and the city where I live. People bring their own poems and short stories. They read them out loud. Then that person stays quiet while we discuss the literature in question.
In terms of essays, my paragraphs are probably fine. I remember a paper I had to write for my A-Levels on Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” – and the Victorian Age and stuff. Paragraphs there were fine in their length. I never considered that for online writing, those paragraphs are way too long, especially with how they’re displayed on the screen.
So, I have a problem and I need to work on that. I put a lot of effort into some of my posts (not all… but most, I guess?) and hence, I want people to read them. If I continue writing paragraphs that are 16 lines long, nobody will read them. People will skim them if they read them at all. My point won’t come across and people won’t get why I’m writing about a given topic in the first place.
“A good post is a post I’d read myself” was my rule of thumb so far, so when it came to editing, I took that to heart. I’d change the conjunctions at the beginning of sentences out for other ones to bring variety into the mix. I’d switch up adjectives and other words for synonyms because of how limited my vocabulary is at times… at the same time, though, I never really bother too much with paragraph length and breaking up long pieces of text because, in my eyes, they’re fine. If a paragraph is “too long”, I break it up into two… But those two paragraphs are still too long for most people.
This is not to say that I shouldn’t do long paragraphs at all. Naithin said that they should be the exception rather than the norm in the online context. Wilhelm also follows the same “school” as me of starting a new paragraph when a new thought begins… but when you look at his paragraphs, you’ll notice that they’re shorter than mine still even though he also does “one thought per paragraph”.
As mentioned before, my thinking is flawed on the matter. In my eyes (so far), a “thought” didn’t end after three sentences. Rather, I’d elaborate on that thought again and again.
Even these paragraphs here may be too long, in fact. Krikket said on the matter that one should learn how writing “should” be so that one could break rules fully aware of the rules one is breaking. In simpler terms, if you know why a rule exists, you can figure out when/if it’s okay to break it.
My posts currently are mostly 1k words long and feature a few longer paragraphs, each usually with their own thought or sub-topic. This worked so far… but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good philosophy. Thus, I wanna see if I can maybe improve upon that in the next few weeks.
Blaugust is also coming up soon, so I may even make it a goal to not have too many lengthy paragraphs by the end of Blaugust. I feel like a personal goal such as that would be amazing.
At last, I dislike paragraphs that are only three lines long. Personally, I don’t have an issue with lengthy paragraphs. Generally, I prefer them even. That’s just a “me” thing though and I’m not the target demographic of this blog. While I do enjoy writing blog posts, I as a person am not who ends up clicking on these posts and reading them.
Rather, I should consider the point of view of someone else reading my posts, which is why the feedback I’ve gotten was so valuable to me. I appreciate everyone who gave their thoughts on the matter and everything they told me. I love this community. I should make it easier for them to read my posts.
Anyhow, from now on, I’ll try and see if I can break off paragraphs more and then, eventually, I’ll write about it again and see if I am okay with that change, if I like it even, or if I possibly actually dislike it.
This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitch and YouTube as well.
For what it’s worth, I too have difficulty following longer paragraphs on my computer monitor. I prefer to read more dense content like yours or Kaylriene’s blog on my tablet.
I’ve been redesigning my blog and struggling to get the formatting more accessible for longer posts. I don’t think there is a very good answer. I think widescreen computer monitors are just not a good fit for long paragraphs.
I found this post with it’s shorter paragraphs to be very readable if that helps.
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